If someone plays a practical joke on you today and it makes you laugh, thank them. Turns out they did you a favour by helping out your stress reduction. That’s because laughter is scientifically proven to benefit mental health. Leading benefits of laughter include stress reduction, strengthened social connections and the release of your body’s “feel good” chemical, endorphins.

As a result, one of the many benefits of laughter and humour is the power to combat anxiety and depression and encourage stress management.

We clearly have a lot to gain from the mental health benefits of laughter and the stress management techniques it can enhance within us.

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Laughter helps us

Release endorphins: a natural chemical in the body, endorphins promote a sense of well-being and relieve stress.

Decrease anger: When we’re in a difficult situation or in a disagreement with another person, seeing the humour in it can help. Specifically, laughter defuses anger, conflict, and self-blame.

Eases distressing emotions: Laughter counteracts feelings of anxiety and sadness. Moreover, it helps us release other intense emotions, such as grief.

Relaxes and revitalizes: Along with reducing stress, laughter also increases our energy levels. Therefore, we can stay focused more easily rather than become distracted by negative thoughts.

Changes your perspective: Laughter helps us access another point of view. Moreover, we begin to see something in a new, less scary way when we can laugh about it. In addition, humour helps us take things less seriously.

Reduces stress: When we laugh and smile, cortisol levels decrease. Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone, so lower levels are better for our mental health and stress reduction. Laughter therefore increases our stress resilience.

Brings more joy and fun into our life: When we laugh it is physically impossible to feel worried. For a moment we forget the things that can often bring us down.

Scientific Validation for Laughter’s Impact on Mental Health

The study of laughter is called gelotology. Established in the late 1960s, this field of study examines the physiological and psychological effects of humour. Therefore, many researchers have found evidence of healing through laughter.

Below are a few highlights of the extensive research on laughter, mental health, and stress including a number of studies involving teens and young adults.

Research carried out in Spain, showed that laughter releases physical and emotional tension, elevates mood, enhances cognitive functioning, and increases friendliness.

Similarly, a study of female college students showed that both humour and exercise reduced psychological distress and increased well-being. However, humour lowered the students’ anxiety more than exercise did.management,

A study of 95 male college students and 125 female students found that having a good sense of humour directly mitigates depression. A 2011 study examined a group of people’s reactions to funhouse mirror images of themselves. The findings revealed that those who laughed most frequently at images of themselves also showed fewer signs of negative emotion.

Making Yourself Laugh Works, Too

Typically, something makes us laugh, and then the benefits to the mind and body come next. However, it can also go the other way around. That is, when we decide to laugh or smile, even if it’s fake, the body responds as if it’s real. Therefore, we receive the same benefits, such as the release of endorphins in the brain.

In other words, simulated laughter can be just as good for your mental health as the real thing.

As you can see laughter has so many benefits for both our physical and mental health. Adopting laughter as one of your stress management techniques will have a positive impact on your life.

When we laugh we do open ourselves up to healing through laughing and that alone can really help ward off the negative feelings that can creep up on all of us.

So the next time you’re feeling anxious about something, try laughing at something you know will work. You’ll be amazed at how good you feel when you’ve finished.

Why not check out my laughter club to hear how you can join other likeminded people and laugh together.